The second Republican presidential debate kicks off Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
The two-hour event will be aired from 9 to 11 p.m. on both Fox Business Network and Univision. It will be moderated by Fox News’ Dana Perino and Stuart Varney as well as Univision’s Ilia Calderon.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and former Vice President Mike Pence will take part.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) issued tougher criteria on polling and unique donors for the second debate, but they’ve proven far from impossible to meet.
Everyone from debate No. 1 qualified for debate No. 2 except former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
In a statement on X, Mr. Hutchinson wrote that he would stay in the race if he could “increase [his] polling numbers to 4 percent in an early state before Thanksgiving.”
Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald J. Trump, will once again be missing.
Instead, he will be in Detroit, talking to striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members one day after President Joe Biden made a similar trip.
Former President Trump is expected to deliver remarks during prime time.
“He really has the ability to resonate with these workers. Although he is a billionaire, he is able to symbolize a middle finger to the establishment,” said Republican strategist Libby Krieger in a Sept. 26 interview on NTD.
“If you’re going to skip it, you definitely want to do something else. And being in Michigan, a swing state that he won in 2016, is definitely better counter-programming than when he had to surrender in Atlanta after the Milwaukee debate,” said University of Michigan debate director Aaron Kall in a Sept. 26 interview on NTD.
Those who tuned into the first debate may have noticed some major topics and questions were missing or minimized—everything from election integrity, a huge concern for many Republicans after the 2020 election, to the fate of Jeffrey Epstein, which Tucker Carlson tackled during an interview with former President Trump that ran at the same time as the debate.
Here are some more things to look out for at the showdown in Simi Valley.
Trump, Trump, and More Trump
A transcript of the first debate shows the word “Trump” was spoken more than 25 times.
President Trump will likely remain a significant focus of the conversation on Sept. 27. As he faces multiple indictments while campaigning for his previous office, the real estate developer turned politician is still the main character in American politics and certainly in the Republican Party.
“He has a huge lead. As the debates have gone on, his lead has only increased. While there were some standout performances in Milwaukee, nobody really made a dent in that,” Mr. Kall said.
“They can’t just attack each other and hope to do well. They really have to take the fight to Donald Trump,” he added.
“There’s definitely a split in the Republican Party—those who want to move into the populist direction and those who want to stay with the 2000s or even earlier type of Republicanism, like Nikki Haley or Mike Pence.
“That’s going to be something for Republican primary voters to decide at the ballots,” Ms. Krieger said.
Mr. Ramaswamy and Gov. DeSantis are closer to the populist camp. A strong attack on President Trump from either one would be noteworthy.
More Foreign Policy Clashes
During the first debate, some of the biggest arguments erupted over foreign policy.
That’s unsurprising. In a party reshaped by President Trump and, before him, the likes of Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, hawkishness has given ground to what some call non-interventionism and what others call isolationism.
As the closest equivalent to President Trump in Milwaukee, Mr. Ramaswamy sparred with Ms. Haley and Mr. Christie as well as former Vice President Pence.
Mr. Pence described Mr. Ramaswamy’s vision of ceding parts of Ukraine to Russia to sever it from Beijing as a “giveaway … to Putin.”
Ms. Haley, who served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, argued with Mr. Ramaswamy over Russia, China, Taiwan, and Israel.
Count on foreign policy remaining a hot topic at the Reagan Library. After all, the president has considerable power over foreign policy, as outlined in Article II of the Constitution, and American foreign policy decisions resonate across the country and the planet.
The ‘Laptop from Hell’
Special counsel David Weiss’s investigation of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, didn’t come up as part of the moderators’ questions in Milwaukee.
Mr. Christie and Mr. DeSantis did mention his legal issues at the first debate.
Although Hunter Biden has been under investigation for years, no charges were filed until whistleblowers with the IRS testified that multiple U.S. attorneys declined to let Mr. Weiss bring charges.
Now, an FBI agent has come forward and confirmed their accounts during a closed-door interview with members of Congress.
“I remember learning at some point in the investigation that Mr. Weiss would have to go through his other processes because the U.S. Attorney’s Offices had, I guess, in that sense, using that terminology, wasn’t going to partner,” the agent said, as recorded in a transcript The Epoch Times has obtained and reviewed.
Hunter Biden is also suing former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler in connection with the laptop linked to him in the runup to the 2020 election, dubbed “the laptop from hell.”
Rising Haley Attracting Attention
A June RNC release on the debates states: “Qualified candidates will be placed on stage according to polling, with the highest polling candidate in the center.”
Mr. DeSantis will stand in the middle of the pack at the Reagan Library, flanked by Mr. Ramaswamy and Ms. Haley. Mr. Christie and Mr. Scott will be the next layer, and Mr. Pence and Mr. Burgum will make up the outer fringe.
While Mr. DeSantis remains No. 2 in polling, Mr. Ramaswamy and Ms. Haley have both gained in recent weeks.
A recent St. Anselm survey of New Hampshire primary voters showed Ms. Haley with 15 percent, placing her ahead of everyone but former President Trump.
Multiple insiders told The Epoch Times that Mr. DeSantis would be under the most scrutiny during the first debate. Yet, it was an ascendant Mr. Ramaswamy who attracted some of the strongest attacks.
That’s in keeping with a leaked DeSantis campaign memo from prior to that event, which recommended the Florida governor “hammer’ Ramaswamy.”
Ms. Haley’s rise could place her in a similar position, though perhaps not from rivals who sympathize with her neoconservatism.
California and Gov. Newsom
The state of the State of California may also become a talking point.
Its Democrat-led policies on energy, the environment, and many social issues have often made it a target for criticism for Republicans.
The debate itself is taking place in California’s Simi Valley, a former GOP stronghold that went for President Biden in 2020.
Rumors that California Gov. Gavin Newsom may jump in the race could make the Golden State all the more relevant.
Mr. DeSantis is now slated to debate Mr. Newsom in November.
Other Topics to Watch
The ongoing UAW strike may also make it into the conversation, especially with President Biden and former President Trump visiting the strikers.
“The Democrats used to have a stronghold with these union blue-collar workers … However, we saw this shift a little bit with Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020,” Ms. Krieger said.
In addition, while moderators Brett Baier and Martha MacCallum did not talk about COVID-19 vaccines and masking during the first debate, they could be fodder on Sept. 27.
While COVID-19-related restrictions can sometimes seem like yesterday’s news, they may soon be back as mask mandates return. The topic could prove a strength for Mr. DeSantis, who is running in part on his actions during the pandemic.
Finally, the moderators can be expected to bring up former President Ronald Reagan. That was certainly the case in Milwaukee, where there was a shadow war between Reaganism and Trumpism.
“The head of the Reagan Library is not a fan of Trump,” Mr. Kall said.
From The Epoch Times